Locals might groan that Haifa's nightlife consists of a few landmark establishments, and while it's true that the city's nightlife selection is sparse when compared to Tel Aviv, Haifa offers a little bit of everything for locals and tourists: mega clubs, live music bars, dance bars, resto-bars and pubs.
Usually, Haifa joints aren't built as passing trends. They must provide a solid night on the town for a steady clientele, consisting largely of students and high-tech professionals who wouldn't waste their hard-earned money or productive time on a dingy watering hole or fly-by-night stylish fad.
So when Haifa's famous Baha'i Gardens light up at night, so too do the following nightlife joints:
Barbarossa: Considered the most "in" resto-bar in Haifa, this is where locals go to see and be seen. On weekends there is hardly room to move among the pretty-ish, 20-something crowd. Designed in heavy wood, Barbarossa has the aura of a Crusade cellar -- a tribute, perhaps, to Emperor Barbarossa of Germany, who led the Third Crusade in the 12th century. Opens 6:30 p.m. Pika 4. (04) 811-4010. http://www.barbarossa.co.il/
Beer House: As should be obvious from the name, The Beer House specializes in brews, serving 120 brands as well as beer-battered dishes. Located right near the hotels in the Carmel area, this is a natural choice for tourists -- especially Europeans. Opens 7 p.m. HaNassi 116. (052) 501-8889.
Brown: A branch of the Tel Aviv resto-bar, Brown in Haifa resembles an English-style pub evoking warmth through its color scheme, which is, naturally, wooden brown. The bar is separated into a two areas: a lounge with booths, and a large, square "Cheers"-style bar for a diverse, easygoing crowd. Opens 9 p.m. Moriah 131. (04) 811-2391, (052) 224-9095.
Carmela Jazz and Wine Bar: Newly opened by the owners of Brown, Carmela acts as a resto-bar by day with a fusion menu and bar. Toward the end of the night, the jazz music picks up in tempo and eventually turns into funk, rock and groove with touches of jazz. Opens 6 p.m. Moriah 12. (077) 336-1616.
City Hall: Considered a Haifa institution, as befits its name, City Hall is a live music and dance club that celebrated its heyday in the '80s and '90s. The top floor is outfitted with state-of-the-art sound, lighting and stage props to host quality rock performers such as Aviv Gefen , Monica Sex, Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine. Downstairs, DJs spin synth-pop, goth, drum n'bass and reggae. Opens midnight on Thursdays (ages 18+) and Fridays (ages 18-25). Shabbatai Levi 7. (04) 862-7523. http://www.cityhall.co.il.
Frangelico: A sushi bar with friendly service despite its aura of exclusivity. A long bar featuring sexy spot lighting allows for plentiful pick-up opportunities for the generally 25- to 35 year-old crowd. The sushi, prepared by Japanese chefs, is so popular that they opened a little chain at the Haifa Grand Canyon mall. Sunday-Monday, opens 5 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, opens 12 p.m. Moriah 132. (04) 824-8839.
Geah: The third branch of the mega-bar chain (the others being in Tel Aviv and Eilat), Geah means "asylum" in Hebrew, and rightly so. The vibe can get crazy around the massive rectangular bars sprawled around gargantuan hangar space. The colors of the design and clientele tend to be on the dark side. Opens midnight on Thursdays (hip-hop/Israeli) and Fridays (gay-friendly night, N.Y. house). HaNamal 16. (050) 700-8020.
Gobi: Gobi looks like a dingy, if cheesy, everyman's dance bar, playing mainstream pop, dance and hip-hop. The décor is minimal, with walls painted black, but maybe Gobi doesn't need to invest too much in design. Large windows facing the bar show off a beautiful, panoramic view of the Haifa port and beach at night. Opens midnight on Tuesdays (electro), Fridays (23+), and Saturdays (students). Yefe Nof 115. (054) 812-4801.
Horva: A veteran dance bar, Horva features three halls, one each for mainstream, trance and Israeli music on Thursdays (students) and mainstream, hip-hop and Israeli music on Fridays (soldiers). Opens midnight. HaNamal St. 10. (052) 388-8188.
Irish House: The pub is certainly not as invested as authentic as the Irish pubs in the center of Israel, like Dubin, Molly Bloom's and Murphy's. The lighting is a little too bright and the décor -- consisting of flags, mugs, and chandeliers -- is haphazardly Irish, but for Haifa it does the trick. Opens 8 p.m. Yefe Nof 120. (054) 559-0615.
Levinsky: More than 6 years old, Levinsky is a large resto-bar designed in classic red and black leather. Levinsky is a restaurant in the afternoons and turns into a mellow pick-up bar at night, with relatively spacious lounge areas. Opens 12 p.m. Moriah 133. (04) 825-8294, (052) 431-2314.
Luna: A mega-club that has made its home in an impressive, preserved stone Ottoman bathhouse, which emerged unscathed from a Katushya hit last summer. Nowadays, antiquity mixes with raunchy modernity as Luna bathes its dancers in updated club music under high ceilings and a powerful sound system. Opens 10 p.m. on Thursdays (N.Y. house, trance and Israeli/rock) and Fridays (N.Y. house, hip hop and Israeli rock). Al Pasha 5. (04) 862-6264.
Maidler's Pub: You can usually find Maidler himself -- a gruff, buff, bald Israeli -- sitting on his bar on any given night. An animated picture of him is part of the logo, but don't let his unfriendly expression turn you off. When the big games are on, Maidler's transforms into one of the friendliest sports bars in the city. Opens 6 p.m., Moriah Blvd. 126. (04) 824-8754. http://www.rest.co.il/sites/Default.asp?txtRestID=4205
Morrison: Named for Doors singer Jim Morrison, whose large picture looms over bar-goers, Morrison, is, appropriately, a loud, popular -- and squishy -- mega rock bar, which occasionally hosts young rock bands and Israeli artists. Reservations recommended, or first come, first stool. Opens 8 p.m., Yef Nof 115. (04) 838-3828, (054) 740-0501. http://www.morrison.co.il/.